The Denver Art Museum is an art museum in Denver, Colorado located in Denver's Civic Center. It is known for its collection of American Indian art, and has a comprehensive collection numbering more than 68,000 works from across the world.
The museum's origins can be traced back to the founding of the Denver Artists Club in 1893. William C. and Kenton Forest. Denver: A pictorial history from frontier camp to Queen City of the Plains. Colorado Railroad Museum, 1993. In 1916, the Club renamed itself the Denver Art Association. Two years later in 1918, the Denver Art Association became the Denver Art Museum and opened its first galleries in the City and County building. Later, in 1922 the museum opened galleries in the Chappell House. The house, located on Logan Street, was donated to the museum by Mrs. George Cranmer and Delos Chappell. In 1948, the DAM purchased a building on Acoma and 14th St. on the south side of Civic Center Park. Harris, Neil. "Searching for Form." The First Hundred Years. The Denver Art Museum, 1996, Denver architect Burnham Hoyt renovated the building which became known as the Schleier Gallery. While the Schleier Gallery was a significant addition, the DAM still sought to increase its space. Additional pressure came from the Kress Foundation who offered to donate three collections valued at over $2 million on the condition that DAM construct a new building to house the works. Harris, Neil. "Searching for Form." The First Hundred Years. The Denver Art Museum, 1996, DAM sought help from the city and county of Denver to raise funds. However in 1952 voters failed to approve a resolution bond. Despite this setback, the museum continued to raise funds and eventually opened up a new building. This new building, called the South Wing, opened in 1954 and made it possible for DAM to receive the Kress Foundation's gifts. A major addition opened on October 3, 1971. Jones, William C. and Kenton Forest. Denver: A pictorial history from frontier camp to Queen City of the Plains. Colorado Railroad Museum, 1993, The addition, now called the North Building, was designed by Gio Ponti and local architect James Sudler. The architecturally unique building stands 7 stories tall, has 24 sides, and is clad in grey glass tiles specially designed by Dow Corning.
Frederic C. Hamilton Building, Under Construction
History of the museum The museum's origins can be traced back to the founding of the Denver Artists Club in 1893.Jones, William C. and Kenton Forest. Denver: A pictorial history from frontier camp to Queen City of the Plains. Colorado Railroad Museum, 1993. In 1916, the Club renamed itself the Denver Art Association. Two years later in 1918, the Denver Art Association became the Denver Art Museum and opened its first galleries in the City and County building. Later, in 1922 the museum opened galleries in the Chappell House. The house, located on Logan Street, was donated to the museum by Mrs. George Cranmer and Delos Chappell. In 1948, the DAM purchased a building on Acoma and 14th St. on the south side of Civic Center Park. Harris, Neil. "Searching for Form." The First Hundred Years. The Denver Art Museum, 1996, Denver architect Burnham Hoyt renovated the building which became known as the Schleier Gallery. While the Schleier Gallery was a significant addition, the DAM still sought to increase its space. Additional pressure came from the Kress Foundation who offered to donate three collections valued at over $2 million on the condition that DAM construct a new building to house the works. Neil. "Searching for Form." The First Hundred Years. The Denver Art Museum, 1996, DAM sought help from the city and county of Denver to raise funds. However in 1952 voters failed to approve a resolution bond. Despite this setback, the museum continued to raise funds and eventually opened up a new building. This new building, called the South Wing, opened in 1954 and made it possible for DAM to receive the Kress Foundation's gifts.
A major addition opened on October 3, 1971. William C. and Kenton Forest. Denver: A pictorial history from frontier camp to Queen City of the Plains. Colorado Railroad Museum, 1993, The addition, now called the North Building, was designed by Gio Ponti and local architect James Sudler. The architecturally unique building stands 7 stories tall, has 24 sides, and is clad in grey glass tiles specially designed by Dow Corning.
Architect Daniel Libeskind, who is seen here on the Frederic C. Hamilton Building section of the museum, was the designer behind the building.
The newest edition to the Denver Art Museum is the Frederic C. Hamilton Building which holds the Modern and Contemporary Art collection along with the Architecture and Design and Oceanic Art collections. The unique building will also serve as the main entrance to the rest of the museum complex. This ambitious design doubled the size of the museum allowing for an even greater expansion of the art inside of the daring aesthetic exterior.
The complex geometrical design of the Frederic C. Hamilton building consists of 230,000 square feet of titanium shingles that cover the 20 sloping planes of the structure. The angles jut in all directions and the 2,740-ton structure contains more than 3,100 pieces of steel. One of the angles extends 100 feet over the road running below. Of all the 20 planes, not one is parallel or perpendicular to another.
Because of the distinct configuration of the steel to produce the very bold building, the Frederick C. Hamilton extension of the DAM received a Presidential Award of Excellence from the American Institute of Steel Construction’s 2007 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel (IDEAS2) awards program. In the determination of winning projects, the AISC’s judges considered each project’s use of structural steel from both an architectural and structural engineering perspective with emphases on “creative solutions to the project’s program requirements; applications of innovative design approaches in areas such as connections, gravity systems, lateral load resisting systems, fire protection, and blast; the aesthetic and visual impact of the project, particularly in the coordination of structural steel elements with other materials; the innovative uses of architecturally exposed structural steel and advances in the use of structural steel, either technically or in the architectural expression.” 
The design had so many extended angular planes to be reminiscent of the landscape. Similar to the peaked roof of the Denver International Airport symbolizing the snowcapped Rocky Mountains, the Denver Art Museum’s Frederic C. Hamilton building is meant to emulate the unique, sharp angles the nearby Rockies hold as well as the geometric crystals found at the base of the mountains close to Denver. Architect of the intricate structure, Daniel Libeskind said, “I was inspired by the light and geology of the Rockies, but most of all by the wide-open faces of the people of Denver”  Because of the steel construction covered in 9,000 titanium panels, the building also reflects the soft and strong light of the Colorado sunshine. The architect of the original North Building, Gio Ponti, said that “Art is a treasure, and these thin but jealous walls defend it.” Ponti wanted the DAM building, housing the important art within, to break from the traditional museum archetypes by placing more than a million reflective glass tiles on the building’s exterior along with a dramatic “castle-like” façade.
While the majority of the artwork is within the buildings, there are also significant works of outdoor sculptures. Libeskind also designed a landscaped pedestrian plaza to go along with the Denver Art Museum complex as a whole. These outdoor sculptures include 'Scottish Angus Cow and Calf' by Dan Ostermiller, the 'Big Sweep' by Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg and an untitled work by Beverly Pepper. On the entire design, Libeskind commented, “The project is not designed as a standalone building but as part of a composition of public spaces, monuments and gateways in this developing part of the city, contributing to the synergy amongst neighbors large and intimate.”
With such a dramatic design for a museum, the building has received mixed reviews. The architecture critic for The Los Angeles Times, Christopher Hawthorne, says that museum architecture does not always blend cohesively with a great architectural achievement. Hawthorne reported that “It’s a really stunning piece of architectural sculpture, but the aggressive forms make it a pretty terrible place for showing and looking at art.”  The director of the Denver Art Museum, Lewis Sharp, says that one of the most thrilling moments about the building is how the visitors are brought in to seeing the artwork within in an entirely new, exciting environment as the artists’ work is displayed and hung in over 20 different ways on the dramatic, sloping, obliquely shaped galleries. Sharp states, “I think you often see things that you had never seen before. It just raises all types of potentially new ways to engage a visitor.”  And many visitors and Denver residents love it as Emily and David Andreeson say, “We’re in normal looking buildings every single day. It’s just kind of an experience to walk into a room that doesn’t look like rooms that we would normally be in.” And that is exactly what the museum was looking for as their expansion, Sharp says. He stated that the museum’s board was seeking the opportunity to draw people to the wonderful city by building something radical and spectacular to capture the attention of people around the country and the world.</ref> In any case, the Frederic C. Hamilton building is certainly a standout among the city-scape of Denver in many ways.
The museum has nine curatorial departments: architecture, design & graphics; Asian art; modern and contemporary; native arts (American Indian, Oceanic, and African); New World (pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial); painting and sculpture (European and American); photography; Western art; and textile art.
Formed in 1990, the department opened its first permanent galleries in 1993. Changing exhibitions drawn from its collection of fine and decorative arts are displayed on the sixth floor, featuring pre-1900 European and American decorative arts. 20th-century design galleries are located on the second floor.
The museum's Asian art collection, the only such resource in the Rocky Mountain region, includes four main galleries devoted to the arts of India, China, Japan and Southwest Asia. Additional galleries offer works from Tibet, Nepal and Southeast Asia, while thematic galleries display religious art and traditional folk crafts.
The modern and contemporary collection of 20th-century art contains over 4,500 works with an emphasis on both internationally known and emerging artists. The department also includes the Herbert Bayer collection and archive, an important Bauhaus artistic and scholarly resource, containing some 2,500 items including works by artists such as Man Ray, Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Robert Motherwell, Damien Hirst, Philip Guston, Knox Martin, Dan Flavin, John DeAndrea, Gottfried Helnwein and Yue Minjun.
One of the museum's most popular and frequently asked-about pieces is part of the modern and contemporary collection. Linda, by Denver artist John DeAndrea, is a life-size realistic sculpture of a sleeping woman. Made of polyvinyl, this piece is sunlight-sensitive and is therefore shown only for short periods of time. The museum also owns another piece by the same artist, Clothed Artist and Model (1976).
In 1983 the museum became the home of Red Grooms' controversial pop-art sculpture The Shootout, which portrays a cowboy and an Indian shooting at one another. The sculpture, now on the roof of the museum restaurant, had been evicted from two other downtown Denver locations after Native-American activists protested and threatened to deface the work.
The museum's collection of American Indian art has over 16,000 works representing over a hundred tribes across North America. Under the direction of Arnold Ronnebeck, Art Director from 1926–1930, the Denver Art Museum was one of the first museums to use aesthetic quality as the criteria to develop such a collection, and the first art museum in this country to collect American Indian arts. The museum exhibits these items as art rather than anthropological artifacts. The range of Native American art styles is reflected in such diverse objects as Northwest Coast woodcarving, Naskapi painted leather garments, Winnebago twined weaving, Plains Indian beadwork, Navajo weaving, Pueblo pottery, and California basketry.
The Oceanic collection, on view in the Hamilton Building, includes all major island groups, with particular strength in late 18th and early 19th century wood carving and painted bark cloth from the islands of Samoa, Tonga and Hawaii. The Melanesian collection consists of masterpieces from Papua New Guinea and New Ireland. The contemporary Oceanic works, including paintings, drawings and prints, add distinction to the collection and demonstrate cultural continuities and innovation in Oceanic artistic traditions.
The African collection consists of approximately 1,000 objects, and focuses on the diverse artistic traditions of Africa, including rare works in sculpture, textiles, jewelry, painting, printmaking and drawings. Although the strength of the collection is west African art, with emphasis on Yoruba works, there are masterpieces from all regions and mediums of expression including wood, metals, fibers, terracotta and mixed media compositions. The hallmark of the collection includes contemporary expressions, comprising paintings, sculptures, drawings, videos and prints from prominent living artists with international reputations. Interactive elements in the gallery include an iPod station with African music selections, an area where you can create rubbings using African designs and a movie hide-away for the kids.
The museum has a comprehensive representation of the major stylistic movements from all the geographic areas and cultures of Latin America. The New World Collection, comprising over 5,500 objects, is exhibited in a unified presentation of the arts of Latin America. Included are pre-Columbian masterworks of ceramic, stone, gold and jade, as well as paintings, sculpture, furniture and silver from the Spanish Colonial Period.
The Frederick & Jan Mayer Center at the Denver Art Museum  is dedicated to increasing awareness and promoting scholarship in the fields of Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art through the New World collections of the Denver Art Museum. To this end, the Mayer Center sponsors annual symposia and publication of their proceedings, the publication of additional volumes as it sees fit, research opportunities including a resident fellowship program and periodic study tours to Latin America and Spain. The programming of the Mayer Center is developed and administered by the staff of the New World Department, Denver Art Museum.
The Denver Art Museum Pre-Columbian Collection is encyclopedic in breath and depth, and exhibited in an open storage gallery, allowing scholars to view the entire collection. The Pre-Columbian collection represents nearly every major culture in Mesoamerica, lower Central America, and South America. The collection’s greatest strength is the Mayer Central American collection which includes gold, jade, stone and earthenware from Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. Mayan art from Mexico, Guatemala and Belize is especially significant and contains a large number of very important works. Other significant holdings from Mesoamerica include our West Mexican, Teotihuacan and Olmec collections. South American collections are especially strong in Ecuadorian and Colombian art and in several of the Peruvian styles, particularly Moche, Wari, Tiwanaku and Chimu.
The museum collection of Spanish Colonial painting and furniture is especially strong in Mexican painting, largely due to the collecting interests and generosity of the Mayer family. Another area of great strength is Peruvian Colonial paintings from the Frank Barrows FreyerCollection. Silver holdings, comprising the Appleman and Stapleton collections, and furniture holdings from all over Latin America represent a comprehensive collection. The Anne Evans collection of Spanish Colonial art from the southwestern United States is yet another significant strength of the collection.
The over 3,000 objects in this department is composed of American and European painting, sculpture, and prints through the early 20th century. The European collection is richest in Renaissance and 19th-century French paintings. The American collection consists of paintings, sculpture, prints, and drawings representing all major periods in American art before 1945. Artists represented include Sandro Botticelli, Defendente Ferrari, Camille Pissarro, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Georgia O'Keeffe. Other painters represented include;Jacopo del Casentino ("Madonna and Child"), Bernardo Zenale, Niccolò di Pietro Gerini ("4 Crowned Saints Before Diocletan"), Filippino Lippi, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Berthe Morisot, Max Beckmann, Juan Gris,and Georges Braque.
Works are also on view from The Berger Collection, one of the largest private individual collections of British art in the world, with more than 150 pieces by British artists such as Thomas Gainsborough, Edward Lear and other artists of the English School that covers a period of 6 centuries.
Photography—previously incorporated in the modern and contemporary and Western collections—became a separate department in 2008.
The collection ranges from Coptic and pre-Columbian textiles to contemporary works of art in fiber, overlapping culturally and chronologically with all but the Native Arts Department. A nationally-recognized collection of American quilts and coverlets, the Julia Wolf Glasser Collection of samplers, and the Charlotte Hill Grant Collection of Chinese Court Costumes are among the strengths of the department.
The Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum was established in 2001. Also that year, the collection was augmented by the Harmsen Foundation's donation of over 700 paintings. The Harmsen Collection joined a collection already rich in 19th-century photographs of the West and with such masterworks as Charles Marion Russell's In the Enemy's Country, Frederic Remington's The Cheyenne, and Charles Deas’s Long Jakes.
The Harmsen Collection contains works by artists and photographers who charted the colonization of the American West in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as Frederic Remington, Charles M Russell, Frank E. Schoonover, and Frank Tenney Johnson as well as more modern interpreters of American & Western art, such as Gerald Curtis Delano, Harvey Dunn, Dan Muller and Raymond Jonson.
The museum’s Education Department has emphasized three areas: research in making museum visits successful and enjoyable, the creation of innovative installed learning materials (e.g., audio tours, labeling, video and reading areas, response journals, and hands-on and art-making areas), and interactive learning for young people both in school and family groups. Family-friendly programs such as the Just for Fun Family Center, Eye Spy gallery games, the Discovery Library, Kids Corner, and Family Backpacks have been both popular and successful. In particular, the Family Backpack program has been adopted and adapted by other institutions, ranging from the Victoria and Albert Museum to the Henry Ford Museum.
The museum is run by a non-profit organization separate from the City of Denver. Major funding for the museum is provided by a 0.1% sales tax levied in the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), which includes seven Colorado counties in the Denver-Aurora metropolitan area. About 60% of this tax is used to provide funding for the Denver Art Museum and three other major science and cultural facilities in Denver (the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Zoo, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science). In addition, the museum receives large private donations and loans from private collections. Over the past five years, the Denver Art Museum has averaged 465,000 visitors a year. Total revenues for the Museum in 2003 were $23 million.